Chapter Update

Liz Taber, the lone occupant of the colonial revival on a five acre wooded lot sat at her desk in the quiet space. Through the door behind her the living room echoed endless space.
Why didn’t you turn the lights on in there? You always set yourself up for the creeps.
She did and now she thought something or someone was on the other side of the doorway watching her. This is not the first time her hair has stood on the nape of her neck.
It will pass.
Stacks of papers and books were scattered all around her, a lone lamp on the floor to her right. The sixty-watt bulb faced a wall illuminating the family tree painted on the canvas from floor to ceiling. She heard a thump outside the window, and then a slow drag.
The wind.
She had been there for hours at her computer searching for clues. Another crash against the house, sounded like the deck furniture. Liz shot a glance at the window and grabbed the desk but kept her grip on the familiar oval-shaped mouse. She slid her index finger across the round surface, wet from her clammy palms and clicked on the database. She hoped to find her fifth generation grandmother.
The list of passengers on the ship California appeared on the monitor. A short list, maybe fifty names. Light from the lone lamp flickered. She searched for the surname Hay, and found one, Isabella. The light flickered again.
Not now.
She wanted to save the website to her favorites tab, but the computer’s hum went silent.
“Fine, just fine,” she sighed. “I’ll find her later.”
She pulled her robe across her shoulders and stood for a moment staring at her hand-painted family tree. The room brightened with each flash of lightning, exposing Isabella’s name. All her ancestors seemed to draw her in as she stood before them each night, but none as hypnotic as Isabella. The feeling of someone watching her from the darkness passed.
She closed the office door leaving her family tree on the other side and faced the living room. Lifeless, she thought as she paused and stared. A fire dwindled on the other side of the room. The nights alone in the large house got scarier with time and losing electrical power didn’t make living alone any easier.
She kindled the fire, poured herself a brandy, and sipped as she lay back on the cream-colored sofa. A tear trickled from the corner of her eye, like every other night. The memory of her husband’s death, the silent rage.
I can’t go back.
The storm continued through the night, the house quiet aside the howling wind outside. Liz lay fast asleep in the large room lit by the generous fire. Adjacent to the room, the home office door slowly opened. The spirit of a woman wearing a white dress eased into the room and sat in the chair, her eyes rested on Liz as she lay covered with her favorite throw.
Liz turned to her side and peeped at the empty chair. She blinked and took in a deep breath.
Go back to sleep, no ones there.
She drifted back into her dream, humming an unfamiliar tune.
The spirit of the woman rose from the chair and hummed the same tune. Her ghostly orb hovered above the wood plank floor and moved delicately across the fire lit room. She entered the home office where she reached her name on the family tree and disappeared.
Liz woke up and lifted her head from her pillow and immediately looked to the empty chair.
“Goodness,” she said aloud. “Get a grip.”
Through the curtains specks of dust floated about in the strands of light that reached across the living room leading into the kitchen. She gazed toward the granite countertop where her coffee pot sat empty. “You should have purchased the generator,” she told herself. She rose from the sofa and headed for the staircase. She passed her home office and saw the door wide open. She was sure she closed it tight. Liz stood at the doorway of the office and stared inside, the room now darker than the main room, her desk covered with notes unorganized and scattered not only on top of her desk but on the floor as well.
She moved around the piles of paper and opened the drapes exposing the daylight and when she spun around to face her office, the family tree shimmered. Liz swept her hair away from her eyes and smiled at her masterpiece. It was as if her ancestors reached from their graves and shined through the branches of painted names representing their place in time, their lives.
“Nice work Lizzie,” she gloated.
The truck’s tires rolled on wet pavement, a splash of water, and an annoying screech, “It’s time to get out of here,” she said. She sprinted up the stairs leaving the office door open. Inside, the branches of life on the family tree glistened as the fall leaves of the red maple outside the window slowly lifted upward as droplets of rainwater fell to the ground. A peaceful moment, but on the other side of the tree, across the long and narrow yard the electricians prepared to fix the broken link between their massive electrical plant and Liz’s house.
Randy Sullivan, a lifelong Rhode Islander, peered at the property. Not a large man, but his piercing eyes intimidated most people. He stood behind the truck and watched Liz leave the house.
“Perfect,” he sneered.
Liz powered her Honda CRV and gradually rolled out to the main road. Randy loathed her living alone just as his mother did when she left. He was twelve when he found his mother and begged her to let him come with her. “No,” she had said to him. “Your father will come searching for you, go away!” His rage over his mother festered until the day he killed her. Liz, he decided will be his next victim… of many. He had watched her for weeks after following her back from Norwich one Saturday. She was as she usually is alone and vulnerable.
He sucked on his teeth and hollered to Danny. “I’m going around back to check the lines.”
“Watch for dogs,” said Danny. Randy glimpsed back at him and snickered at the way he struggled to get the toolbox open.
“That ought to keep him busy,” he said.
He worked his way around the back of the house peeking into each window until he reached the open back door. “Ah, Ms. Taber, you’re slipping,” he whispered, and entered through the kitchen.
It was eerie, the silence. The refrigerator, clocks, the creaks in the flooring was void of sound. He told himself to turn around, go back.
Underneath the aroma of flowers from a vase nearby he caught the scent of paper, mounds of must and ink, and beyond that the familiar stench of death.
The office door moved with a vexing creak, without support or reason. The door continued to creak as it closed off the small room. The sound of each creak louder than the one before, creak, creak, creak, until the walls vibrated and suddenly the door stopped. Randy just stood still, legs shaking.
“This isn’t possible,” he said.
He finally turned to run like hell and as he did, the door swung wide open. He glanced back in enough time to notice the door didn’t recoil, as if someone or something held it against the wall. He begged his legs to move as he stood staring. The door slammed shut. He sped out the back door, turned the corner and saw Danny by the utility truck. Run, run, he repeated in his mind until he finally gained his voice back and screamed at Danny, “Let’s go!”
Danny had a big smile on his face as he watched Randy run toward him, he asked, “What’s wrong? Did you find the dog?”
“Get in the truck!” Randy screamed.
As he ran to the truck a man stood over in the tree line. He wore gray slacks pulled high up to his waist, and a jacket cut at the hip. Randy knew from his attire he wasn’t from this time or this world because he seemed… he’s a damn ghost!
He screamed again, “You dumbass get in the truck!” He rushed Danny, and in one swoop shoved him in the truck and pushed him over to the passenger seat. Randy looked back at the house and over to the tree line, he saw nothing but felt imminent danger as he spun the wheels of the truck leaving a ladder behind splattered with mud.
Back in the house, in the small office, Ed Taber’s hand painted name glowed until it faded next to his wife’s name, Isabella Hay, on Liz’s family tree. The whispers between the couple ensued, “Where were you Ed?” Isabella asked. “I was in the field Isabella.” The lights came on, the clock ticked, and the back door closed.
A few miles away Liz continued her drive until she reached the town of Norwich. She rolled the car window down and took a deep breath. The Thames River to her left reminded her of her research and the passages she read about the settlement of Norwich. She thought of the Church family, and having seen gravestones with the name Church on the same site as her ancestors, she wondered if there were connections. She would have to do the research she thought and grinned as she told herself, why not, it is possible she’s a descendant of someone who corresponded with the enemy. After all, she did have an ancestor who spied for the Confederates during the Civil War. She asked herself what compelled them to do such things.
She burst out with a nervous giggle, “Shoot Lizzie what compelled you to leave Virginia.”
As much as she tried to forget her husband’s awful crimes, his pedophile acts revealed to her closes friends and neighbors as he lay on his deathbed haunted her to this day.
The rushing water of the Thames River headed for the Long Island Sound. Liz headed for the coffee shop on Main Street. She parked and began her walk in the past. The town of Norwich never disappointed as it is rich with history. She bumped shoulders with a young lad and said, “Excuse me.” He mumbled something and scurried on disappearing into the distance. She didn’t notice as she continued to walk down the uneven pathway. That he faded away. Nor did she see the ghost of many integrated with the living in clothing from another period. Nevertheless, they were there.

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